20 Hours Free ECE Information
How 20 Hours ECE works
The government subsidises all children who attend ECE.
20 Hours ECE is a higher funding subsidy.
It means that if your child is 3, 4 or 5 and goes to an ECE service that offers 20 Hours ECE, the cost can be fully subsidised for up to 6 hours a day and up to 20 hours a week.
You can choose to use as many or as few hours of 20 Hours ECE as you want, up to 6 hours a day and 20 hours a week.
Your child’s ECE service may, however, have a minimum number of hours or days of enrolment as part of their policy.
How to apply
If your child is 3, 4 or 5, you can apply for 20 Hours ECE when you enrol your child at the ECE service – or you can do it just before your child turns 3 if they are already enrolled.
Fill in the enrolment agreement at the ECE service. The agreement must include an ‘attestation’, where you write and sign for the days and hours you are claiming as 20 Hours ECE. 20 Hours ECE cannot be claimed until you have completed the attestation.
You can choose which hours you want to claim for 20 Hours ECE – it can be for any hours that your child is enrolled.
As children must attend school from the age of 6, the last day that 20 Hours ECE can be claimed is the day before your child’s sixth birthday.
The subsidy is paid directly to the ECE service. You don’t have to apply separately to the Ministry of Education.
If your child goes to more than one ECE service
If your child goes to more than one ECE service, you can split the hours between them so long as it’s not more than 6 hours a day and 20 hours a week in total.
Anyone can apply
If you have a 3 or 4 year old, or a 5 year old child who is not enrolled at primary school, you can apply for 20 Hours ECE. This is regardless of your income, whether you or your child is a New Zealand resident or citizen, or any other reason.
An ECE service can ask you to pay optional charges, and they can ask for a donation. It’s up to you whether you pay these. Optional charges must be for the actual costs of providing extra items or services.
The Childcare Subsidy and 20 Hours ECE
The Childcare Subsidy is for parents whose income is below a certain level. It helps to pay for childcare costs.
Sometimes, you can receive a mix of both the Childcare Subsidy and 20 Hours ECE. This can happen if your Childcare Subsidy is for more than 20 hours a week. For example, if you are entitled to 30 hours Childcare Subsidy and you choose to claim 20 Hours ECE, then you could receive the Childcare Subsidy for the remaining 10 hours. The Childcare Subsidy cannot be used for the same hours as 20 Hours ECE.
The Childcare Subsidy is looked after by Work and Income. To find out more about the Childcare Subsidy, go to the Working for Families website or call 0800 559 009.
For further information about 20 Hours ECE please go to the Ministry of Education Website